At The Climate Reality Project, our mission is to catalyze a global solution to the climate crisis by making urgent action a necessity across every level of society.
We see it in the procession of hottest years on record. We see it in the wildfires leaving California in cinders. We see it in the bushfire soot choking Australia. We see it in the locust swarms devouring entire crops in Ethiopia.
Our climate is in crisis, transforming life as we know it and pushing the Earth ever closer to catastrophe.
But at Climate Reality, we know that if humanity created this crisis, we can solve it too.
Led by former Vice President Al Gore and CEO Ken Berlin, we’re working to do just that, starting from the ground up. We train and empower people of all walks of life to fight for a just transition to clean energy, working together to stop rising temperatures and create a fairer and healthier future for us all.
This is that story. How we organized. How we spoke truth to power. How we spoke truth to each other. How we brought real solutions to communities from coast to coast and all around the world. How we marched and rallied and fought to protect this one precious planet we share throughout 2019.
It’s a story that only happened because of partners and supporters like you. Thank you for making a difference when it mattered.
A LETTER FROM OUR
FOUNDER & CHAIRMAN
These are deeply uncertain times for all of us. We’ve witnessed an extraordinary year of climate progress led by activists demanding change across the world. Mother Nature spoke clearly with more extreme weather, capped by devastating wildfires in California and Australia. And then the coronavirus pandemic turned our world upside down.
We can’t say with certainty what comes next. But we can say that the desire for change remains strong. It was there before COVID-19 struck, in the young voices filling the streets in the global climate strikes in 2019. It was there before the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor reignited outrage at the systemic racism unjustly affecting people of color every day. And it’s there now, as people everywhere see millions unemployed, desperate, and demanding justice.
Our job is to seize this moment and empower people everywhere to take their future into their hands and together create a more just and sustainable world for us all.
With your support, in 2019, we trained over 4,500 new Climate Reality Leaders to lead this effort and help build momentum for a just transition from a global economy powered by dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. We’ve made the case and advanced other clean solutions such as regenerative farming, sustainable forestry, improved building efficiency, and more. And with your support, we’ve worked to bring new voices and communities to our trainings and campaigns, building an inclusive movement to ensure the transition truly is a just one.
Thank you for your friendship and support. We have real work ahead of us to ensure this transition and all of our progress continues in this new world. Thanks to you, I know we will succeed.
Founder & Chairman
At Climate Reality, we work to achieve three goals designed to accelerate a just transition to clean energy and help create a more equitable and sustainable future for us all.
Build a critical mass of public support for addressing climate change.
REDRAWING THE MAP FOR CLIMATE ACTION
We recruit, train, and mobilize activists to take on and win climate battles with national and global consequences.
We start from the ground up, with a three-step strategy designed to build inclusive and powerful activist networks in the regions that have become key climate battlegrounds around the world.
- Recruit: We combine digital outreach and on-the-ground events with our chapters, international branches, Climate Speakers Network, and global network of partners to make climate action a priority in key regions and for people across the planet.
- Train: We bring together individuals from across the world to attend our in-person and virtual Climate Reality Leadership Corps trainings to learn about the climate impacts and solutions in their own backyards and how they can make a difference.
- Mobilize: We organize Climate Reality Leaders, chapter activists, and members of the public to take on critical climate fights, from opposing petrochemicals to expanding clean energy access to strengthening federal emissions standards, to make a collective impact and a difference in their communities.
The result: A growing number of committed activists winning high-profile victories in regions around the world and sending a clear message that the time for climate action is now and we can solve it together!
THE CLIMATE REALITY LEADERSHIP CORPS
You want to make a difference. We’ll show you how.
Real change doesn’t happen by itself. It happens because regular people – students, parents, workers in every field – take their future into their own hands and pull on the levers of power.
That’s why, back in 2006, former Vice President Al Gore created what became the Climate Reality Leadership Corps. To empower people of all ages and walks of life to make a difference in our planet’s future.
Since then, we’ve seen Leaders help shift their towns to 100 percent renewable electricity. We’ve seen Leaders fight pipeline developments in frontline communities. We’ve seen Leaders organize climate strikes bringing hundreds of thousands into the streets. The list goes on.
In 2019, we held four trainings in cities and regions where activists could be instrumental in local battles with national significance: Atlanta, Brisbane, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Tokyo. Acknowledging that climate change is affecting low-income communities first, three of these trainings featured special outreach and scholarship initiatives to welcome members of frontline communities personally touched by fossil fuel pollution and climate impacts.
Together, these events welcomed over 4,500 new Climate Reality Leaders to our global community of change-makers, helping us build a more powerful and diverse movement to win.
Experiencing a Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training
What You Can DoWatch & Share Watch this video and share it with your network.
"When we are united, we are unstoppable." Ever wondered what it’s like to attend a Climate Reality Leadership Corps training? Here's what the experience is like, straight from Climate Reality Leaders.
Around the United States, and especially so in the Southeast, communities of color are enduring a disproportionate health and economic burden from climate impacts. The Atlanta training was a powerful convening moment for the climate and environmental justice movements.
Climate Reality partnered with several key climate justice groups in the region, such as the Partnership for Southern Equity, the Poor People’s Campaign, SolNation, Justice First, and the HBCU Climate Change Consortium. Panels featured speakers from frontline communities, as well as breakout sessions on community organizing, using your personal story for social change, engaging diverse stakeholders in climate conversations, and what a just energy transition means for the US Southeast.
You can read about the training and the impact it had on college student Nina Barrett in a Washington Post front-page article, titled "Al Gore is near the end of his quest to save the Earth. Nina Barrett just got started".
The Atlanta training was made possible by the incredibly generous support of Climate Reality Board Member Rosamund Zander.
Additional support was provided by the Kendeda Fund and The Ray C. Anderson Foundation.
Communities across Australia and the surrounding Asia-Pacific region are experiencing acute impacts of climate change, from intensifying storms and wildfires to more frequent and severe droughts to blistering heat waves and sustained sea-level rise. Increasing sea temperatures also threaten the region’s coral reefs, including Queensland’s famed Great Barrier Reef.
Hosted in partnership with the Queensland Government, and coinciding with Queensland’s first-ever Climate Week QLD, the training explored the climate challenges and opportunities relevant to both Queensland specifically and the Asia-Pacific region generally.
Another key theme throughout the Brisbane training was elevating diverse voices from frontline communities. For indigenous communities and others, the climate crisis and impacts like rising seas and uncertain seasons represent an existential threat to their daily lives. Through the generous support of various funding partners, Climate Reality Australia provided scholarships to nearly 100 people, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, as well as individuals from Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and other Pacific Islands.
Residents of Minnesota and the upper American Midwest are seeing and feeling the effects of the climate crisis: extreme weather events and historic floods pose a threat to traditional foods and places, agricultural livelihoods, and outdoor recreation. Current community-based struggles – including pipeline construction on indigenous lands – are prevalent, highlighting the need to reinforce frontline and indigenous leadership and commit to greater equity and justice.
At the training, we were joined by an incredible group of programmatic partners – including Climate Generation, Fresh Energy, iMatter Youth, Isaiah, MN Interfaith Power & Light, Center for Earth, Energy & Democracy – who helped us place a spotlight on key local fights, including work to stop the Line 3 Pipeline, a proposed crude oil pipeline that would cross through northern Minnesota and threaten Native American reservations, as well as the Mississippi River and other bodies of water across the region.
At the training, we welcomed scholarship recipients from frontline communities, college students, and leaders from the Ohio River Valley in an effort to expand our coalition building in the region.
You can read more about the highlights of the training on our blog here!
The Climate Reality Leadership Corps Minneapolis-St. Paul Training was made possible by the generous partnership and support of Amy and Michael Stielow, as well as our additional funding partner, Askov Finlayson’s Keep the North Cold campaign. The McKnight Foundation generously supported a scholarship fund for attendance from frontline community members in the region.
In a country with almost no history of grassroots climate advocacy, we knew this would be unlike any training we had undertaken in the past. But with record-breaking extreme weather events occurring more and more while the country continues to embrace coal, Japan is in a unique position to take a stand and be part of the solution.
The training featured presentations, panel discussions, and skill-building workshops focusing on the science of the climate crisis, ways for citizens and groups to communicate key climate-related concepts and issues to various stakeholders, and how citizens can support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Bloomberg featured the training and Vice President Gore’s concern over Japan’s push to embrace coal here.
A Moral Call to Action on The Climate Crisis
What You Can DoWatch & Share Watch this video and share it with your network.
On the first evening of the Atlanta training, Climate Reality partnered with Repairers of the Breach, Center for Earth Ethics, and the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church to hold an interfaith mass meeting that explored how diverse faith traditions and common values compel us to respond to the climate crisis and inspire us to act for a more just and sustainable world. The service was open to the public as well as training attendees — and we were thrilled to welcome nearly 2,000 people to this inspiring event.
Vice President Gore, Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II, and Reverend Dr. Raphael G. Warnack, the Senior Pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, were joined by local faith leaders to gather inspiration from religious texts, bear witness to the injustice of the climate crisis, and rededicate our communities to transformative action.
Climate Reality CHAPTERS
Americans want a just and sustainable future – and they’re willing to fight for it. With or without the White House.
We see it every day in our over 150 Climate Reality chapters all across the country. Chapters bring activists of all stripes together to organize, build, and launch winning campaigns to halt the fossil fuel agenda, fight for justice in frontline communities, and move the needle on public opinion and energy policy.
In 2019, we saw the difference chapters make. Over 7,500 activists in our community and Campus Corps chapters in 38 states marched. They gathered signatures. They met with civic, school, and business leaders. They reached out to friends and neighbors. Most important, they kept the movement going, growing, and winning.
Campus Corps chapters recruit college students to fight for climate action, starting right outside their door. With support, training, and resources from Climate Reality, young activists in 37 Campus Corps chapters push their college or university to break ties with fossil fuels and embrace practical clean energy solutions across the school.
The result is a growing body of change-makers who are not only making a difference on campus today, but cutting their teeth as activists and building the know-how and skills to become movement leaders tomorrow.
Campus Corps chapter highlights from 2019 include welcoming our first chapter at a historically black college or university, North Carolina Central University. And at Doane University in Nebraska, our chapter introduced a divestment resolution, ran a student campaign in support of the resolution, and celebrated the resolution’s approval by the Doane University Board of Trustees in May.
Climate Speakers Network
Community voices have a story to tell. We help turn up the volume.
If we’re going to leave fossil fuels behind and solve the climate crisis, we’ve got to listen to the people seeing the devastation right outside their window. Because all too often, the families breathing in coal dust and communities hit hardest by rising seas and climate-fueled hurricanes are just left out of the conversation on solutions.
The Climate Speakers Network (CSN) aims to change that. Launched in 2015, CSN works to build a more inclusive climate movement where all communities know what the crisis means for them and have a voice in how we solve it.
To do it, CSN trains faith and environmental justice leaders to use the power of their own story to share the reality of the crisis in their community and inspire their friends, colleagues, parishioners, and more to act.
Key Events and Trainings
• Duke University Student Training (March 2019)
• Charleston Interactive Training (March 2019)
• Baltimore Prayer Breakfast, with Black Church Food Security Network (October 2019)
• Tampa Talks Climate, with Southeast Climate and Energy (November 2019)
• South Florida Climate Event, with Southeast Climate and Energy (November 2019)
• Young Farmers Coalition Convergence (November 2019)
Creating catalysts for climate action.
Founded by the World Economic Forum, the Global Shapers Community is a network of young world-changers committed to tackling the great challenges of our time, from environmental degradation to clean water access for all.
Thanks to the generous support and partnership of Rosamund Zander, we train these inspiring individuals to connect climate issues with key fights like hunger and social justice. We also help Shapers hone their communications and organizing skills to mobilize their communities for climate action and win.
Through these trainings – held at Shaper events around the world – we’re helping young leaders gain the skills to turn passion into real results. Many Shapers then train as Climate Reality Leaders to deepen their understanding of the crisis and build their advocacy and organizing skills even further.
The results speak for themselves. Since attending our trainings, Shapers have tackled illegal wood cutting and deforestation in Armenia, documented lives in communities in the Brazilian Amazon, developed an online tool to help consumers calculate the environmental impacts of their fashion choices, and so much more.
Climate Reality’s work alongside the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers is made possible by the generosity and partnership of Climate Reality Board Member Rosamund Zander.
24 Hours of Reality: Protect Our Planet, Protect Ourselves
The good news is that we’re hearing more and more about the climate crisis in the media today than ever before. The not-so-good news is that so much of it is noise, leaving people feeling confused about what’s really happening and what we can do.
So how do you make sure the truth breaks through all the noise?
With a good old-fashioned conversation, live and face to face.
So on November 20–21, we held a global conversation on the truth of the climate crisis and how we solve it: 24 Hours of Reality: Truth in Action.
For one full day, Vice President Gore and Climate Reality Leaders led public presentations and conversations on our changing climate in schools, community centers, offices, and more, with events reaching across all 50 US states and all seven continents (even Antarctica).
Truth in Action conversations gave people the chance to hear the truth of what’s happening to our planet, in person and from a friend, neighbor, colleague, or trusted community voice. Just as important, these conversations also gave many the chance to learn how to use their vote, their voices, and everyday choices to make a difference.
To help, we created easy-to-use talking points on the crisis and how we solve it targeting a range of audiences from medical professionals to parents that audience members could download and use to continue the conversation in their own lives. Plus, for every person who joined our email list, we planted a tree with our partner One Tree Planted, enabling audiences to start taking action before they even left the event.
Strengthen national commitments to emissions reduction in 10 key countries and regions.
Building support for a stronger Paris Agreement.
With the IPCC warning of just a decade left to slash fossil fuel emissions and avoid climate catastrophe, we need leaders across the planet working together for more ambitious climate solutions and faster energy transition. And we need it now.
How do we make this a reality? With activists on all continents pushing their leaders to act now, all together and all at once.
This is where our 10 international branches and new presence in Japan come in. Our branches work as nerve centers for the global climate movement. Each branch mobilizes Climate Reality Leaders and other activists to press for climate solutions and keep the pressure on leaders in their country or region.
At the same time, branches also work in tandem across time zones, coordinating efforts and together building planet-wide momentum for global action at this critical time.
Johannesburg, South Africa
672 Climate Reality Leaders
- Mobilized public support and influencer pressure to help successfully pass a carbon tax in South Africa.
- Led the Action 24 program to strengthen government and public participation in advancing decarbonized sustainable and inclusive development in South Africa, including training government officers and legislators.
- Played a leading role in the Zero campaign, with a coalition of NGOs, CSOs, and volunteers from across Africa calling on the African Development Bank to be 100 percent transparent and to switch to 100 percent renewable energy.
- Worked with provincial governments in Gauteng, Kwazulu-Natal, Limpopo, and Western Cape provinces to promote clean energy transition.
1,537 Climate Reality Leaders
- Held a successful Climate Reality Leadership Corps training for over 700 new Climate Reality Leaders.
- Launched a collaborative grant scheme to help Climate Reality Leaders working on projects focused on these themes.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
591 Climate Reality Leaders
- Branch Director Alfredo Sirkis spearheaded coordination of subnational efforts to implement Brazil’s NDC at the state level, with representatives for 12 state governments committing to join.
- Ran an education campaign in Rio de Jainero schools to teach over 5,000 students and train over 300 teachers on climate science and solutions.
1,022 Climate Reality Leaders
- Continued a Community Climate Hub program mobilizing activists to build public support for renewable energy in 20 municipalities across the country.
- Strengthened the National Climate League program, where Hub members and citizens around the country collect data on climate indicators to encourage municipalities to make stronger commitments on climate.
875 Climate Reality Leaders
- Trained influencers as Climate Speakers in Shenzen in October.
- Brought Climate Reality CEO and President Ken Berlin to judge Shanghai Environment and Energy Exchange’s Green Carbon Award.
1,668 Climate Reality Leaders
- Focused on the need for many European countries to make the shift away from coal, the branch helped organize and support events in various regions, including panel discussions in Romania and Poland, and the Conference on Climate Communications in Slovakia, attended by 500 government officials, citizens, and stakeholders.
- Formed a partnership with the Sziget Festival, one of the largest cultural festivals on the continent. Through this partnership, Climate Reality Leaders gave 14 presentations and engaged hundreds of individuals on the European National Energy and Climate Plans. Leaders also gave a mainstage presentation on climate for up to 15,000 people.
New Delhi, India
578 Climate Reality Leaders
- Trained 714 teachers to serve as trusted messengers and educators on climate change and sustainable development in their communities, and hosted an International Education Conference for more than 500 participants from nearly 30 countries.
- Planted 100,000 trees to offset carbon emissions.
296 Climate Reality Leaders
- Trained students, government officials, and NGO leaders on the climate crisis.
- Held a youth leadership camp focused on climate action for 60 young people, featuring a screening of An Inconvenient Sequel and a conversation with the country’s special envoy for climate change.
MEXICO AND LATIN AMERICA BRANCH
Mexico City, Mexico
1,317 Climate Reality Leaders
- Used popular media to raise awareness and educated media voices on covering the crisis effectively by developing a climate manual and hosting a training for journalists.
- Organized and ran workshops for government officials, corporate employees, and university students to better understand climate science and solutions.
Quezon City, Philippines
608 Climate Reality Leaders
- - Built for the future with a new host and partner.
Climate Reality In Japan
764 Climate Reality Leaders
- Held a successful Climate Reality Leadership Corps training for 766 new Climate Reality Leaders.
- Engaged Climate Reality Leaders through opportunities like 24 Hours of Reality.
Accelerate the Transition to a clean energy economy
Building a More Inclusive Movement
How can we ensure the clean energy revolution is a just one that leaves the inequities and unequal burdens of the fossil fuel economy behind?
By building a bigger, broader, and more inclusive movement to drive it. By ensuring those living on the front lines of the climate crisis and suffering the worst of fossil fuel pollution have a decisive voice in what comes next. By providing fossil fuel workers green careers with a future, so no one is left behind in the new economy.
For years, our CSN and partnership initiatives have worked to expand the climate movment beyond traditional green constituencies. In 2019, we took the next step with an ambitious new effort to work alongside and support grassroots groups in the Southeast US and beyond fighting for environmental justice in their communities. Part of this effort was listening to hard truths about what communities actually need and how the movement has to change, learning from their experience and wisdom.
Part of this effort also involved launching a scholarship program to support individuals in frontline communities to train as Climate Reality Leaders and develop the skills and network to make an even greater impact in their fight for justice. Over the course of the year, the program welcomed:
The result is a movement growing far beyond traditional green constituencies, a movement that looks like and speaks for all the communities we call home. A movement with the numbers and power to win.
We don’t need the White House for a clean energy revolution. Our 100% Committed activists are proving it every day.
Through the campaign, Climate Reality Leaders and chapter activists build pressure on local governments, businesses, and academic institutions to commit to transitioning to 100 percent clean electricity.
Once a partner has the made the commitment, activists often work with them to develop a roadmap to 100 percent clean energy, with an emphasis on renewables, that considers the needs and lives of the local community and can win broad support from all constituencies.
Through this approach, we’ve not only helped dozens of universities, businesses, and local governments become leaders in climate action, but also empowered people across the US to take their energy future into their own hands.
BIG WINS IN 2019
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
As part of a broad coalition, the Climate Reality Project: Los Angeles Chapter helped move the Los Angeles Unified School District – which oversees education for over 734,000 students – to commit to 100 percent clean energy.
The Chicago chapter joined forces with numerous partners to push the City of Chicago to 100 percent clean energy.
Our Thurston County, King County, Tacoma, Seattle, Snohomish County, and Bellingham chapters helped build support for legislation leading to Washington State committing to reaching 100 percent clean energy.
NEW YORK STATE
The Climate Reality: Hudson Valley and Catskills Chapter successfully secured 89 commitments to 100 percent clean electricity in just two years.
Global change starts with local wins. It’s a philosophy at the heart of
two ambitious partner efforts working for just energy transition in the Ohio River Valley
and in counties across the US.
FIGHTING PETROCHEMICALS IN THE OHIO RIVER VALLEY
With the generous support of the Heinz Endowments, in 2017, we began building a community of activists in Pennsylvania and the Ohio River Valley, training over 1,300 new Climate Reality Leaders in Pittsburgh.
In 2018, we mobilized many of these Leaders in a wide-ranging effort to raise awareness of the dangers of petrochemical developments in the Ohio River Valley and build popular support for halting the industry in its tracks.
This effort continued in 2019 with 900-plus local Climate Reality Leaders and chapter activists in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky leading a grassroots movement fighting for the future of their communities and changing the conversation on petrochemicals in the face of powerful opposition.
COUNTY CLIMATE COALITION
In 2018, we began an exciting partnership with Santa Clara County in California to help county governments across the US slash emissions and embrace sustainability at every level. In 2019, our activists brought 15 counties in to join the County Climate Coalition, including the most populous county in the US, Los Angeles County. The significant commitments these counties are making – with LA County alone aiming to prevent over 47 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions – send a signal to other local governments that energy transition is on – and it’s time for them to get on board. And with 51 chapters now targeting commitments from 66 county governments, we can see real progress coming.
At Climate Reality, digital communications are at the heart of everything we do to build a more inclusive and diverse movement and drive real change for climate solutions. Together, our wide-ranging content marketing, social media outreach, digital storytelling, and campaign initiatives combine to educate, inspire, and empower audiences to act at pivotal times.
We use a combination of accessible blogs, fact sheets, e-books, and video stories to help people of all backgrounds understand what’s happening to our planet and what it means for the people they love and the values they hold. Content highlights in 2019 include:
- Knowledge Is Power e-book on solar energy and activism, co-published with HGTV's Property Brothers co-host and solar energy advocate Jonathan Scott.
- The Climate Crisis and Your Health e-book on how the crisis is exacerbating health threats and what you can do.
- Climate Science Belongs in the Classroom fact sheet on science education
More and more people know we need to solve the climate crisis. But not everyone knows how we’ll do it. Through wide-ranging video stories, social outreach, and blog posts, we point the way to a just and sustainable future and the tools in our hands to get there. Over the course of 2019, we shared 139 blog posts that together drew 2 million views, while our By the Numbers graphics series brought engaging stories of hope to thousands on Instagram and Facebook.
We give people the digital tools to turn awareness into action by demanding action on specific policy goals and driving larger cultural change. In 2019, our online outreach saw supporters take over 230,000 digital actions in Climate Reality campaigns for change and another 225,000 digital actions in coalition campaigns with movement partners. Highlights in 2019 include:
- People Over Petro in Southwest Ohio pressuring Governor DeWine to stop petrochemical buildout in the state
- We ❤ Truth publicly celebrated local meteorologists reporting the truth about the climate crisis, helping create a pro-science culture.
- Call it a Climate Crisis campaign called on major television networks to elevate the urgency of their climate coverage and call the climate crisis exactly what it is, generating nearly 100K petition signatures together with our movement partners.
Thanks in part to these efforts, we now share a message of urgency, solutions, and hope with to 1.5 million combined followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and have added 108K new email subscribers since January 1, 2019.
It takes a certain kind of person to look beyond the present, to face the climate crisis head on and say, “Yes, we can solve this.”
As president and CEO of Climate Reality, preparing and delivering this report fills me with a deep sense of pride.
But just as important, it fills me with tremendous gratitude that we have partners who can make this work happen. Partners who see the climate crisis transforming the Earth and believe another world is possible. Partners who believe that regular people can be the engines of change taking us to a just and healthy future.
Thanks to you, the shift to a clean energy economy is on, even in the face of new challenges and uncertainties presented by the pandemic now gripping the planet. Thanks to you, we are building a climate movement of many voices, cultures, and perspectives. A movement as diverse as the communities and world we call home.
Thanks to you, we are building a better tomorrow where the worst of the climate crisis is in the past and where our children can dream as we did. There is work to do and obstacles still to overcome, but thanks to you, we know we’ll win.
President & CEO
TRAINED: ATLANTA 2019
Olinka Green knows exactly what environmental racism looks like. At the age of just 15, she saw a local smelter releasing toxic chemicals into the predominantly lower-income and minority neighborhoods of West Dallas. So she decided to do something and became an activist helping families get tested for lead poisoning.
Decades later and an adult, Green continues to fight for environmental justice. In 2019, she attended the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Atlanta with the Poor People’s Campaign and has worked closely with the Dallas Fort Worth Chapter to organize an Ecological Devastation Tour in South Dallas to raise awareness of how the climate crisis is impacting low-income families and communities of color. She continues to work with Climate Reality and the Poor People’s Campaign to highlight what the crisis means for these communities and push for climate justice for all.
TRAINED: BRISBANE, 2019
For Ben Holt, an education officer with the NGO ErinEarth in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, the threat of climate change is as real and personal as it gets.
In 2019, some of his family members were caught inside of a house as a bushfire burned all around it. Everyone came out okay in the end, but the terror of the experience hasn’t left him.
“Now, as a result of recent events, if there’s a day in Wagga that’s over 35 degrees Celsius [95 degrees Fahrenheit], I mark it on my calendar,” he says. “And that means I’m not going anywhere on that day. I won’t be going to the pub, or meeting friends. I won’t be doing anything that will stop me from being called out to a fire . . . My level of alertness has gone up, and its influence on my lifestyle as well.”
Through his work with ErinEarth, Ben is turning alertness into action, educating young people on how to live sustainably and reduce their impact on the planet at a time when the reality of the crisis has never been clearer in Australia. He’s also been instrumental in helping build public support for action in New South Wales, working to organize a climate rally in March 2019 and the Global Climate Strike march in September.
All these efforts have not gone un-noticed, with Ben recently named Wagga Wagga’s Environmental Citizen of the Year during the city’s Australia Day Awards.
TRAINED: MINNEAPOLIS-ST.PAUL, 2019
No one can accuse 15-year old Alexandra Villaseñor of thinking small. After nearly a year of spending her Fridays on climate strike in New York City in solidarity with Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, Villaseñor saw world leaders weren’t listening to her or the countless other young people demanding action now.
So, she did what any teenager would do, and joined 15 other young people in suing the world’s five largest nations at the UN for failing to protect them from the climate crisis.
“The moment where I knew had to be a part of this lawsuit was seeing how all these people in positions of power were listening to the students but they weren’t taking any action,” she says, “They were only praising us. And it seemed like they didn’t have the political will to do anything. And so now we’re making sure that they know they have to do more.”
While the lawsuit rumbles on, Villaseñor has kept protesting at the UN almost every Friday, come rain, wind, or snow. She was a co-founder of the US Climate Youth Strike that helped bring hundreds of thousands of Americans of all ages to the streets in September 2019 as part of the Global Climate Strike with millions protesting worldwide.
Since then, Villaseñor has founded her own organization, Earth Uprising, to empower young people to fight for their future all across the US.
As she says, “I am an activist because I want to protect communities all around the world who are facing the impacts of the climate crisis.” You can be sure you’ll be hearing more from her in years to come.
Branch Manager: Aditya Pundir
Clean Energy Policy and Programs Consultant: Bhavesh Swami
Senior Project Officer: Sheetal Antil
Green School Program Manager: Rekha Lalla
Project Officer: Geetika Srivastava
India Branch Manager Aditya’s activist journey began with a journey of a different kind, when he moved from Dehradun, a beautiful green valley in the foothills of the Himalayas to the megacity of Delhi.
In Delhi, Aditya saw how intense heat and air pollution were stifling the city and creating real threats to both residents and the local environment. Then in 2007, he went to see An Inconvenient Truth with his family. It was a turning point in his life, as he and his wife began discussing how they might be able to make a difference for the world their children would inherit.
After seeing the film, Aditya began working on climate change awareness and develop a website to engage children on the issue. The site was a big hit among schools and Aditya was soon giving talks to students. Through this experience, he learned about the upcoming Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Melbourne, Australia, and the rest, as they say, is history.
As branch manager since 2010, Aditya has worked to develop programs that would match the skills of the Indian Climate Reality Leaders with the needs of the climate change movement in India. One result was the branch’s flagship Teachers Training program, which has trained more than 6,000 teachers as climate communicators, reaching out to the country’s more than 500 million children studying for a better future.
In 2019, the branch expanded its educational outreach in multiple ways, first launching the Green Campus Program, which seeks to put campuses on the path to carbon neutrality by working on issues from clean energy to air quality improvement. Already nine institutions have completed the program and another 15 are now moving forward. The branch also hosted the International Conference on Sustainability Education 2019 in partnership with UNESCO to bring together more than 500 participants from nearly 30 countries to strengthen and build momentum for environmental education.
The branch’s work doesn’t stop with education. Recognizing the severe droughts across the country coming from changing rain and water table patterns, Climate Reality India launched a rainwater harvesting program in affected areas in 2019. Working at the village level, Climate Reality Leaders help build and maintain water recharge facilities, with Climate Reality Leader Col. Shashikant Dalvi in particular training more than 300 students at 120 schools in Pune on rainwater harvesting and water conservation.
In addition, the branch supports the Indian government’s efforts on afforestation and tree planting. Last year, the branch worked with Climate Reality Leaders Prafulla Dhal and Raj Mohan to launch a mission to plant 1 million fruit trees by 2022. As of August 2019, one hundred thousand trees have been planted by the villagers, and another two hundred thousand trees will be distributed in 2020.
NEW YORK STATE CHAPTERS
When the activists in our New York chapters heard about the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act coming up in the state legislature, they knew they had to act. After all, with its requirement for the state the to reach 100 percent clean energy by 2040 and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the bill was a chance for New York to make a huge step forward and send a message to the nation that energy transition is on.
Chapter activists sprang into action, meeting with representatives, launching letter writing campaigns, holding events around the state, and getting the word out on social media, all to pressure legislators to vote in favor of the legislation.
Thanks in part to their efforts, the bill passed both the state assembly and senate. Then in July, Vice President Gore joined Governor Cuomo for a ceremony to mark the signing of this landmark climate bill. Not only does the law lay out a clear path forward for New York, but it also gives other states an important framework and concrete benchmarks as a model for climate action.
Chapters across Virginia joined a broad coalition of grassroots partners to oppose the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and its proposed gas compressor station slated for construction in the historic African American community of Union Hill.
As part of this effort, chapter activists helped organize events to shine a media spotlight on the devastating and disproportionate effect the pipeline would have on African American families, including a march in Richmond in May. Chapter activists didn’t stop there, working to raise awareness of the pipeline’s threat across the state and build a truly diverse coalition to win.
The good news: It worked. The coalition’s efforts paid dividends in early January, when a unanimous ruling from three judges in the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals denied the permit for the compressor station, finding that the state did not consider issues of environmental justice adequately.